Such as for cheeses and creams, butters may also be AOP (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – Protected Designation of Origin). AOP is an official European label recognisable by its red and golden logo.
From May 1st 2009, the Protected Designation of Origin may be seen on all European products manufactured, transformed or elaborated in a given geographical territory, following a well-known process and peculiar specifications. As a matter of fact the AOP label guarantees to the consumer that the various stages of manufacturing have all occurred in the area concerned by the designation: from milk production to butter manufacturing. AOP manufacturing conditions to comply with are stated in requirement specifications, validated by the state and regularly controlled by independent organisations.
AOP may only be delivered after controls by the two relevant authorities: INAO (National Institute for Origin and Quality) and the European Union.
In France, 45 cheeses, 3 butters and 2 creams benefit from a protected designation of origin. These designations ensure good quality products, developed in respect of the environment and the animal welfare.
Three AOP butters exist: Charente-Poitou butter, Isigny butter and Bresse butter.
- AOP Charente-Poitou Butter comes from dairy manufacturing in the French departments Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux Sèvres, Vendée and Vienne. It is manufactured exclusively from creams from these areas, that may, after pasteurisation, undergo a slow biological maturation process (minimum 12h). This maturation process, previous to the churning process, is specific to the AOP Charente-Poitou Butter. The traditional know-how for manufacturing this butter gives it a lot of character, a fine texture and a smoothness with a specific taste of nut.
- AOP Isigny Butter comes from dairy production around the French bay of Les Veys. This area is perfectly situated, close to the seaside and irrigated by five rivers, it gives rich pasture for cattle to feed on.
- AOP Bresse Butter reputation comes from the area that holds the same name. The Bresse area covers the French departments Ain, Saône-et-Loire up to the surroundings of Jura mountains. This bocage offers an exceptional diversity of flora and a historical corn cultivation. Such a mixed feeding gives to the Bresse butter a nice golden yellow colour. This colour may vary according to the season: butter is clearer during winter than during spring or autumn. Traditional churning of Bresse butter gives it tenderness, flexibility and aeration. It is as a result very easy to spread. Melting in mouth, this butter also offers tastes of grass, flowers and dry fruits such as nuts and walnuts.